Ambrosia custard brand up for sale

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Premier Foods has said it is exploring the potential sale of its Ambrosia custard and creamed rice brand.

The firm, which also owns Bisto, Oxo and Mr Kipling, said it had seen lower sales of custard products because of the hot summer and had reduced its promotional investment in the brand.

Ambrosia products are made at a single factory in Devon, which would be included in the sale.

It also said it intended to stockpile raw materials in the run-up to Brexit.

“In the absence of certainty over the arrangements for the UK’s departure from the EU, the group shortly intends to start a process of building stocks of raw materials to protect the company against the risk of delays at ports,” it said.

Boss quits

Meanwhile, chief executive Gavin Darby has said he will step down at the end of January.

He said he would be leaving on the sixth anniversary of his joining Premier Foods.

The announcement comes almost four months after he survived a bid to oust him at the company’s annual meeting.

Activist hedge fund Oasis Management, the firm’s second-largest shareholder, had called for him to resign, a call supported by 41% of shareholders.

Premier Foods has been under fire over a number of issues, including its failure to lift its share price above the 65p-a-share bid offered by US condiment giant McCormick in 2016.

Mr Darby announced his imminent departure as the firm unveiled first-half results showing a 14% profit rise.

Adjusted pre-tax profit was £30.2m, up from £26.4m in the same period a year earlier.

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